Matt Ryan had his worst game of the season. The interceptions didn’t really bother me. Two were due to pressure. I don’t really get bothered by picks when a QB is being aggressive and taking a shot downfield. That was the second INT to Jones. Ryan felt pressure as Garrett Reynolds did not do a good job picking up Shaughnessy on the trap block. And I think Jones is probably more at fault than Ryan for that pick. Since his hand injury, I haven’t seen Julio attacking the ball as aggressively as I think he should be. A player with his sort of size/athleticism, should win every time the ball is in the air. And if/when he develops that singular trait, where Ryan can throw the ball up and know that either Julio is going to catch it or nobody is going to catch it, will be the point where Julio will have lived up to his draft status and become an elite receiver.
I really can’t even be mad at Ryan in this game. Because the offensive line got straight owned in this game. In recent games, not only have I’ve been counting sacks and pressures, but also hurries. Basically hurries are times when there is pressure, but the QB still manages to complete a pass. Also count instances where there is a semblance of heat in the pocket (like enough to make the QB move off his spot). The Falcons gave up 10 pressures, Ryan was sacked once (although I think he was culpable for that), and I counted 12 hurries. Now some of those pressures/sacks/hurries overlap, as there were multiple guys that gave up pressures/hurries on the same play. But given that Ryan had 38 dropbacks, even factoring in overlap, it’s safe to say that on half of his dropbacks Ryan saw pressure. Clabo and Reynolds really struggled in this game. Clabo gave up 4 pressures and 5 hurries from my count, Reynolds was 3 pressures and 2 hurries.
The ground game started well for this game, with Turner earning $4 on his first 4 carries. But then after that it disappeared. Turner’s post-game comments expressing his frustration over his usage is understandable. He started the game well, but then the Falcons went away from him. Now part of that was because the line couldn’t create any push or space. Part of that was because the Falcons basically stopped running the ball. And a small part of that was because Turner just didn’t run as well. The instance that sticks out in my mind was the goalline run after the Edwards fumble recovery, where he had an opportunity to run it in but he was stonewalled. Now the play was not blocked perfectly, as Baker missed his assignment. But still a running back with Turner’s size and supposed power should have been able to get that ball to cross the plane just by leaning forward.
Roddy played well, when Ryan had time to find him. Gonzo had a quiet game, and Julio did some nice things early but then was a non-factor in the second half for the most part.
This game boils down to the offensive line’s struggles. From their two previous matchups, I saw an Oakland Raiders front line that looked mediocre. But apparently during their bye week, Dennis Allen fired up the boys and Lamarr Houston, Tommy Kelly, Richard Seymour, and Matt Shaughnessy to play excellent football and punk our front five. I hope Mike Smith and Pat HIll can do the same for our front during our bye week. Otherwise, this offense is going to be fairly mediocre.
What can you say about the defense in this game? They did some good things, and they did a lot of bad things. First I’ll give credit for Abraham and Walker for having two very solid games in terms of rushing the QB. I gave Walker credit for Abe’s third sack since he was the one that knocked the blocker into Palmer, knocking him down. Babineaux also was very disruptive up front. I think Ray Edwards was also solid against the run this week, looking like the player he was for most of last year. But other than that, there isn’t a lot of positives to say about the defense.
Sean Weatherspoon struggled in this game, and was out of position quite a bit. On the final drive, Palmer picked on him twice, which basically allowed the Raiders to convert a 2nd & 20 in two plays. I don’t think Spoon has played this poorly since his rookie season. Akeem Dent also struggled in this game, and continues to look lost. At this point in the year, I just can’t imagine he’s even close to ready for a playoff atmosphere. The positive for Dent is that he still has nearly 3 months to get ready. Peterson made a few nice plays, contributed on the goalline stand as well as getting a hurry. But he whiffed badly on that touchdown pass to Moore, which is why he has negative earnings. I don’t trust Peterson in coverage, but I do think he’d be an upgrade in the ground game over Dent in the middle. Getting Nicholas back will be imperative to improve the defense.
Samuel had a bad day. He did get the pick six, which was probably the biggest play of the game, but other than that play he struggled in coverage. And his biting on something on the final Raider drive was basically what got them in position to score the game-tying touchdown. So while he may have practically won us the game, he nearly lost it for us as well. It wasn’t even a double move, Derek Hagan ran the slowest go route I’ve probably ever seen run. But Samuel was trying to bite up on Myers who was running an out, even though Weatherspoon was on the coverage and in position to make the stop there. Note to Asante, worry about your man, not somebody else’s. Robinson didn’t have a great game either, although one of his blown coverages he had perfect coverage on. But he missed a couple of stops, including one on Moore’s touchdown catch. Overall, not a terrible game for Dunta, who’s earnings are worse than his play merited. DeCoud and Moore struggled vs. the run in this game, although they weren’t terrible, but certainly not to the level they have been playing at earlier this year.
I want to point out that Robert McClain has quietly been very solid at nickel corner. Who would have thought that he of all people would be the guy that solidified that spot. Not Chris Owens, Dominique Franks, Kelvin Hayden, Brian Williams, or Dunta Robinson, but a journeyman special teams player like McClain that was signed off the street last January. His almost INT subbing in for Samuel on the final drive could have made this game a lot less nerve-racking. He did give up a completion to Denarius Moore on the next play going back to the slot, but it was negated by an offensive penalty. It’s going to be interesting to see him going up against players like Jason Avant, Miles Austin, and Marques Colston in the coming weeks. If he fares well, then Brent Grimes can all but kiss his future as a Falcon goodbye.
Bosher had a good game punting. As he had two 50+ yard punts that were able to get the Falcons out of their own territory and nearly start Raider drives inside their own 20-yard line. D.J. Davis got credit on the final play with a kickoff stop for his tripping up Mike Goodson after all those laterals.
Matt “Money” Bryant came through again. I think it’s fair to say that he’s quickly approaching Mort as far as clutch kicking goes. Andersen may have him because he did it for longer here in Atlanta but Bryant has done quite a bit in basically 2.5 years here.
Advanced Stats from Week 6:
Poor Throws (5): Ryan
Drops (4): Gallarda, Gonzalez, Jones, Rodgers
Sacks Allowed (1): Ryan
Missed Blocks (3): Baker (2), McClure (1)
Pressures Allowed (10): Clabo (4), Reynolds (3), Baker (2), Blalock (1)
Tackles For Loss (6): Babineaux (4), Robinson (1), Abraham (0.5), Biermann (0.5)
QB Sacks (3): Abraham (2), Walker (1)
QB Pressures (4): Abraham
QB Hits (1): Walker
Passes Defended (3): DeCoud, McClain, Moore
Blown Coverages (6): Samuel (3), Robinson (2), Dent (1)
Missed Tackles (7): Robinson (2), Abraham (1), DeCoud (1), Jerry (1), Moore (1), Peterson (1)
Key Blocked (7): Moore (2), Babineaux (1), DeCoud (1), Dent (1), Jerry (1), Weatherspoon (1)